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#945783 - 01/15/09 03:22 AM technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
The thread about "a good technique book for intermediate students" prompted this. Namely, the discussion about the relevance of Hanon.

My question is how much "technique" should be assigned to students with 64-key pianos at home as their primary instrument.

I've opted with one of my students, whom I gave some Czerny, to just do it with her for about five minutes in class every lesson. I believe this is the best route for her since we're working on hand shape, how to press the key, using the arm/wrist, and overall quality. I do not think practice of this at home would benefit her, and possibly harm more than help.

Opinions?

PWF has already hashed and re-hashed the "real vs. fake" argument a number of times. I'm asking in a practical sense. What should a teacher do? or not do?


I should maybe add that this particular student is an excellent student. While she may not be the most talented on the block, she has a great work ethic.

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#945784 - 01/15/09 08:58 AM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3306
Question: If practicing Czerny on her keyboard at home will not benefit her, and possibly harm her, then wouldn't practicing anything on that piano do the same?
_________________________
Music teacher and Blues piano player.

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#945785 - 01/15/09 11:44 AM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7612
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Sal, just a wild thought here - perhaps you should prepare a written waiver which informs the parents of potential damage to the student from playing on such instruments, and which by their acknowledgment and understanding, absolves you from all liability of both physical harm, and the cost of retraining should she later begin using a real piano.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#945786 - 01/15/09 12:10 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I disagree that inexpensive 61-key electronic
keyboards are toys. These are serious
instruments, in my view. The piano J. S.
Bach used had only 49 keys and didn't have
anything like the grand piano voice on
a modern 61-key portable. But no one
would ever say that Bach played on a toy
piano or that his technique was ruined
by the archaic instrument he used. Moreover,
today we play Bach's music on big grand
pianos, music that was created on a
clunky 49-key instrument that would be
considered junk and a toy today.

This all gets back to the tremendous bias
that still exists in the piano world
towards electrical instruments, even though
we are now 20 yrs. into the digital piano
revolution, a revolution that has transformed
the piano world forever. Many people
still are trying to pretend that electronic
pianos don't exist, know nothing about them,
will not even enter a room where there
is one, and discriminate against students
who own them. These people need to get
with the times. Digital pianos are here
to stay and will become more and more dominant
as time goes by. You can debate the
aesthetic aspects of this, but the economic
angle simply can't be overcome. When
you can buy a digital piano for $500
that is for all practical purposes
equivalent to a $100,000 concert grand,
then the handwriting is going to be on
the wall: the acoustic piano is going
to go the way of the manual typewriter,
the film camera, the horse and buggy,
the harpsichord, and the clavichord.
And people who stubbornly cling to
their acoustic pianos when this happens
are going to be left behind by the times.

I grew up with classical lessons and
acoustic pianos only, but I've now been
playing digitals since 1989--hard playing
of the most difficult classical repertoire.
So I know digital pianos and what they
are capable of. Digitals have enabled
me to become the pianist I could never
be on an acoustic piano. They are the
greatest thing that has ever happened
in the piano world, in my view.

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#945787 - 01/15/09 12:22 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rodmichael Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 334
Loc: Maryland
Although many, if not most, other PW participants are generally dismissive if not derisive of anything that Gyro contributes, serious reading of his comment above demands objective analysis as opposed to the often rabidly obnoxious response to what he says.

Without, I hope, any conflict of interest (I am a digital piano user) I think his comments are incisive and logical. As I've mentioned elsewhere in PW, although I'm happy with my high end Yamaha CGP 1000 (of which I'm confident Gyro would be somewhat derisive) and thoroughly enjoy playing it and listening to it, I still harbor a residual desire to someday get an acoustic grand piano of my own. But as Gyro implies, I may not be able to wait too long to do that.
_________________________
Rod Michael
Mason & Hamlin AA, SN 93018
Yamaha CGP-1000, SN UCNZ01010
Zoom Q3



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#945788 - 01/15/09 12:59 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Brian Taylor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/08
Posts: 72
Loc: Etobicoke (Toronto) ON
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sal_:
My question is how much "technique" should be assigned to students with 64-key pianos at home as their primary instrument.

I've opted with one of my students, whom I gave some Czerny, to just do it with her for about five minutes in class every lesson. I believe this is the best route for her since we're working on hand shape, how to press the key, using the arm/wrist, and overall quality. I do not think practice of this at home would benefit her, and possibly harm more than help. [/b]
Sal_,

Are you talking about a device without weighted keys? How could there possibly be a "null benefit" from playing Czerny on anything? What harm do you anticipate or fear from the student playing her exercises on a digital keyboard?

I have just started teaching an adult beginner who tells me she has a cheap 49-key keyboard, and I would like to give her a heads-up at the earliest opportunity if necessary. She, a singer/composer, wants to learn not to perform on piano, but simply to be able to transcribe and play her own compositions, and to be able to work better with other musicians in the recording studio.

Thanks.

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#945789 - 01/15/09 01:12 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Brian Taylor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/08
Posts: 72
Loc: Etobicoke (Toronto) ON
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
When you can buy a digital piano for $500
that is for all practical purposes equivalent to a $100,000 concert grand, [....]

Digitals have enabled me to become the pianist I could never be on an acoustic piano. [/b]
These two things in the same post prompt this question:

If the $500 digital and the $100,000 concert grand are "for all practical purposes equivalent", why is it that that you could never become the pianist on a concert grand that you claim to be on a digital instrument?

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#945790 - 01/15/09 01:30 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Gyro, your post prompted me to do some research. Bach's primary keyboard instrument, which you refer to, was the clavicord. This instrument uses strings. Wait? What's that? Not pre-recorded sounds? So, you mean, the player could have all sorts of different dynamics? And because the keys extended past the keyboard itself, there was weight rather than springs?

The similarities are astounding.


rodmichael, the CGP 1000 looks like a nice piano. Yeah, okay, it's not accoustic, but I would have no problem if my students had one of those.

She has something more like: http://www.casio.com/products/Musical_Instruments/Lighted_Keys/LK-270/ (I don't know exactly, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of my students did have that model. This student didn't like the light-up keys.)

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#945791 - 01/15/09 01:37 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rodmichael:
Although many, if not most, other PW participants are generally dismissive if not derisive of anything that Gyro contributes, serious reading of his comment above demands objective analysis as opposed to the often rabidly obnoxious response to what he says.[/b]
Actually, I think it can be safely dismissed as contributing nothing new to the tedious digital vs. acoustic debate—and certainly nothing germane to the topic of this thread.

I doubt that most people here are as ignorant of (or antagonistic toward) digitals as Gyro asserts. Many of us have them, and I believe most of us can concede that they have their place (and even some advantages). But anyone who seriously believes that they are "for all practical purposes" the equivalent of well-maintained, good quality acoustic pianos—or that piano technique can be taught or learned on any keyboard, even a miniature one with unweighted keys (as Gyro has claimed)—doesn't really understand the difference.

Objective analysis of the collective revelations in Gyro's posts confirms that there's a whole lot he doesn't understand, which is why he's not generally considered a credible source. The "rabidly obnoxious" responses to his posts are in-kind reactions to misinformed ignorance expressed with offensive insolence.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#945792 - 01/15/09 01:38 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
Question: If practicing Czerny on her keyboard at home will not benefit her, and possibly harm her, then wouldn't practicing anything on that piano do the same? [/b]
You could argue that. However, most of the time, focus is on depressing the right keys at the right time rather than technique. She has been able to make more progress having it at home rather than nothing. (Actually, she had an actual toy at home before getting the 61 key keyboard. Previously, she would show up right after school and practice until lessons began.)


John, I like that idea in the future. When parents ask, I recommend at least an 88-key weighted keyboard and usually recommend the Casio Privia series since I realize cost is an issue for 99% of the population. A little piece of me always breaks when I learn student's parents bought them a 64 key one.. still a step up from nothing, though!

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#945793 - 01/15/09 01:41 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3306
Sotto voce...you do have a way with, umm....words...um.


 Quote:
in-kind reactions to misinformed ignorance expressed with offensive insolence.
_________________________
Music teacher and Blues piano player.

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#945794 - 01/15/09 01:43 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
so much posting at the same time....

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#945795 - 01/15/09 01:44 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
I own both a digital and an acoustic piano and both have their place. I tote the digital with me when I am traveling and I even used it in my wedding - however playing it and playing the acoustic is night and day. One cannot get all the nuances of playing pieces on a digital no matter what. The resonance, the polyphonic blending of notes, the sustain pedal all make digitals sound very different. In the best of both worlds everyone can have access to both. One certainly can do a lot on a digital, but it absolutely is not equivalent to an acoustic.

I also am exceedingly curious what property of the digital piano allows Gyro to be "the pianist he could never be with an acoustic"? This is an astonishing contradiction of himself since he claims digitals are "for all intents and purposes" the same as acoustics. So why the disparate results?
_________________________
Steinway M & Yamaha P120

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#945796 - 01/15/09 01:53 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Okay, I'm going to be a jerk and butt-in.

This thread was not to discuss digital vs. accoustic, but rather what a teacher should do concerning technique when faced with a student who has a 61 key keyboard to practice on.

Thank you.

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#945797 - 01/15/09 01:53 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3306
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sal_:
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
Question: If practicing Czerny on her keyboard at home will not benefit her, and possibly harm her, then wouldn't practicing anything on that piano do the same? [/b]
You could argue that. However, most of the time, focus is on depressing the right keys at the right time rather than technique. [/b]
As I understand it, "technique" at the piano IS the physical act of "depressing the right keys at the right time..."

Here is a dictionary definition of technique:

The mechanical aspect of performing a composition.

So, by default, she is using some form of technique whenever she plays the piano, as we all do. You cannot separate "depressing the keys" from "technique".

The only question is whether or not the technique used to depress the keys is one that will serve her well to produce music, or will not.

I am not trying to be argumentative, but the word needs clarification. \:\)
_________________________
Music teacher and Blues piano player.

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#945798 - 01/15/09 01:56 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Hmm... I consider her practice at home more the act of training her fingers to respond accordingly and the "technique" I'm referring to to be everything else.

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#945799 - 01/15/09 02:04 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3306
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sal_:
Okay, I'm going to be a jerk and butt-in.

This thread was not to discuss digital vs. accoustic, but rather what a teacher should do concerning technique when faced with a student who has a 61 key keyboard to practice on.

Thank you. [/b]
That all depends upon several things.

First, as I have posted elsewhere, when people compare a digital of any design to an acoustic, they think of an acoustic as some sort of gold standard by which to judge.

My question is, "What acoustic are you using as a standard?"

A worn out spinet, an antique Steinway with verdegris? (sic) A brand new unregulated el-cheapo studio fresh out of the box?

I have played zillions of acoustic pianos, with actions that range from super-sloppy worn-out loose to very stiff.

In fact, some cheap digitals are as loose, or even tighter feeling, than some worn-out acoustics.

Second, what is the action on her digital like? Just as with acoustics, digital actions range from very non-piano-like loose to near acoustic piano sameness (again, which acoustic!)

Having said that, The best answer I can give is, if her digital is fairly un-piano-like loose-feeling, I would have her play it as Hanon explains in his introduction to exercise #5...

"Lift the fingers high with precision..."

That way, she will actually exercise her fingers, and gain independence.

I have had numerous students who have cheap keyboards like your student has...none have suffered permanent damage from learning on them, then switching to an acoustic.

About the acoustic, they just say, "it plays so different!". To which I reply, "You will find that all pianos do, and you will also find that you automatically and quickly adapt to each piano you play."

Hope this helps...
_________________________
Music teacher and Blues piano player.

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#945800 - 01/15/09 02:13 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
That all depends upon several things.

First, as I have posted elsewhere, when people compare a digital of any design to an acoustic, they think of an acoustic as some sort of gold standard by which to judge.

My question is, "What acoustic are you using as a standard?"

A worn out spinet, a antique Steinway with verdegris? (sic) A brand new Chinese studio fresh out of the box?
[/b]
I'll agree, there is some pertinence of the question. My standard is a fairly well-maintained upright. Nothing golden, nothing sour.

And for the keyboard, yes, I mean "fairly un-piano-like loose-feeling". (I don't know of any fairly piano-like 61 key keyboards for beginners... I'd love a link if they exist.)



Having said that, The best answer I can give is, if her digital is fairly un-piano-like loose-feeling, I would have her play it as Hanon explains in his introduction..."Lift the fingers high with precision..."

That way, she will actually exercise her fingers, and gain independence.[/b]

I was of the mind that fingers should never be lifted?



I have had numerous students who have cheap keyboards like your student has...none have suffered permanent damage from learning on them, then switching to an acoustic. [/b]

That's good to hear. I wouldn't expect permanent damage, but I do feel there are things that can't be learned from the cheap 61 keys.

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#945801 - 01/15/09 02:50 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4879
Loc: South Florida
Some of my students have 61 key keyboards. I've never had any evidence of damage from using them. Why should there be?

But practicing anything like Hanon on them, in my opinion, causes the fingers and hands to make different movements from those we want on modern acoustic instruments. Hands look stiffer. The very natural movements I am looking for don't seem to develop. One especially bad result is that some beginngers insist on touching each key before depressing it, and although I stress not to do this, it's a hard habit to break when they are playing on keys with (at home) with such an incredibly light action. And they want to barely move the fingers, which actually works for them, sometimes, at home.

Those little 61 key keyboards slow everything down for me, as a teacher. Usually any students who show any promise move to something better in a year or less, so any "damage" (not physical) is not permanent. But it does inhibit the development of proper technique for the piano.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#945802 - 01/15/09 04:27 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
rodmichael Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 334
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sal_:
...Bach's primary keyboard instrument, which you refer to, was the clavicord... [/b]
Actually, I think there are two schools of thought about JS Bach's primary instrument, one for Clavichord and one for Harpsichord. At least if what I was reading in Bach\'s Well-Tempered Clavier: The 48 Preludes and Fugues by David Ledbetter is correct and I understand it. It actually seems as though evidence favors the harpsichord. But he played a wide range of keyboard (clavier) instruments including the pianoforte and perhaps favoring the clavichord when playing in France for French audiences. Apparently there was a national bias in France for the clavichord and against the harpsichord, perhaps reflecting a NIH (not invented here) bias.

Best regards,
_________________________
Rod Michael
Mason & Hamlin AA, SN 93018
Yamaha CGP-1000, SN UCNZ01010
Zoom Q3



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#945803 - 01/15/09 05:33 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
GreenRain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
I have this toy at home (im using it when i travel and cannot reach piano for more weeks)
and i can assure you that one cannot learn technique on that ****

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#945804 - 01/15/09 06:11 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4879
Loc: South Florida
The only thing I get out of playing a 61 key keyboard is a hugely increased temptation to use very foul language. \:D
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#945805 - 01/15/09 06:18 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
The Boy Next Door Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 49
Loc: Istanbul
Hi all,

This is my first post here and here it goes.

Before i started my piano lessons i bought a usb-midi keyboard and practiced on it a little. I didn't have much interest in playing the piano back then and i used it to input notes to the computer programs i was using. When i started my lessons i had to unlearn my bad habits because of the things i got used to back then. And i would probably be a year or so ahead of myself now if hadn't practiced at all.

But you should note that i was pretty much unsupervised so maybe it wouldn't harm your student but it ruined my hand shape and reaction to keys. It was like playing a nylon stringed guitar then switching to electric. (If i remember correctly e.guitar strings have like 4 times as much as tension on them)

BTW Bach probably used a harpsichord at home too (i remember reading an excerpt from a memoir of a family member or friend and it mentioned harpsichord at home too).
_________________________
Both music and dance
Are voices of the Way.
-Zenji Hakuin

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#945806 - 01/15/09 06:26 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Boy Next Door,

I understand what you're saying. But, to be fair, if you had no keyboard experience prior to your lessons, you might have picked up some bad habits that would have to be unlearned even if you had had a good acoustic piano. When teaching oneself from scratch, that's always a risk.

Steven

p.s. Welcome to Piano World!
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#945807 - 01/15/09 06:27 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4879
Loc: South Florida
Supposedly Lincoln said:

"A man who represents himself has a fool for a client."

In most cases I would say the same thing about people who insist on trying to teach themselves how to play piano. ;\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#945808 - 01/15/09 06:58 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Okay, I really don't give two hoots right now about what instrument Bach played. Most accounts I read also said that he wrote for nothing specific, but the clavichord and harpsichord were often mentioned. Never having played a harpsichord, but knowing that the string is plucked, I imagine that volume control requires less sensitivity from the player, so I used the clavichord for my response; the sole purpose of which was to diminish Gyro's claims. (I'll concede, I let my worse half do the talking there with the better half keeping it civil.)


What do teachers of students with cheap 61-key keyboards do in regards to teaching technique? (as defined above)

Rocket88 said that he gives them Hanon and tells them to lift their fingers high in order to build strength.

Anything else?

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#945809 - 01/15/09 10:04 PM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3379
Loc: Virginia, USA
None of the organs I play at church have more than 61 keys.

None of the keys are weighted.

Of course, it doesn't matter how hard I hit the keys, it doesn't play any louder. Unless I add a stop.

And stepping on the pedal doesn't help me sustain, it just adds another note, usually wrong.

this forum is pretty piano-centric. I wouldn't advise learning on an unweighted keyboard, but if someone had too, I might ask an organ teacher for advice on technique.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#945810 - 01/16/09 03:22 AM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5854
Loc: Orange County, CA
For students who don't have a real piano at home, I don't focus on technique. I focus more on note reading and sight reading. I also focus more on rhythm.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#945811 - 01/16/09 03:48 AM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I agree with AZN. But it is sorrowful when a student does not have a decent quality piano at home because, bottom line, imo, techinique is the basis for becoming a good pianist. Obviously.

So I would probably drop a student where their keyboard is getting in the way of their training.

EDIT: After reading what I wrote, I'm sure I will have people tell me that I am denying those that cannot afford a decent piano a musical education. Well... still when it comes down to it, for me, beauty in music is having a beautiful tone and dynamics when playing, not just reading notes and learning rhythm.

Can you have your student practice on a real piano at a church perhaps?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#945812 - 01/16/09 10:26 AM Re: technique for students with "toys" at home
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7612
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
TimR wrote:
 Quote:
this forum is pretty piano-centric. . . [/b]
Really? Does this come as a surprise?

Moreover, this is a Piano Teachers'[/b] forum, which is why I am often perplexed when someone posts a topic which has, as a fairly obvious goal, avoiding the use of a teacher in learning to play the piano.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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Intro to 'Steppin' Out' live
by Visalia
05/29/15 04:10 PM
White chalk-like substance on metal rods at bottom of piano
by kiwik
05/29/15 03:51 PM
Key requires more velocity to achieve same volume as others
by Schick
05/29/15 03:05 PM
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